Dotted Line Dotted Line

Poetry Fall 2013    fiction    all issues


Chris Joyner
Wrestlemania III
& other poems

Carey Russell
Visiting Hours
& other poems

Marc Pietrzykowski
Cabinet of Wonders
& other poems

Jonathan Travelstead
Prayer of the K-12
& other poems

Jennifer Lowers Warren
Our Daughter's Skin
& other poems

Jeff Burt
The Mapmaker's Legend
& other poems

Patricia Percival
Giving in to What If
& other poems

Toni Hanner
& other poems

Christopher Dulaney
& other poems

Suzanne Burns
Window Shopping
& other poems

Katherine Smith
Mountain Lion
& other poems

Peter Kent
Surliness in the Green Mountains
& other poems

William Doreski
Gathering Sea Lavender
& other poems

Huso Liszt
Fresco, The Forlorn Virgin...
& other poems

Clifford Hill
How natural you are
& other poems

R. G. Evans
& other poems

David Kann
Dead Reckoning
& other poems

Ricky Ray
The Music of As Is
& other poems

Tori Jane Quante
Creatio ex Materia
& other poems

G. L. Morrison
Baba Yaga
& other poems

Joe Freeman
In a Wood
& other poems

George Longenecker
Bear Lake
& other poems

Benjamin Dombroski
South of Paris
& other poems

Ryan Kerr
& other poems

Josh Flaccavento
Glen Canyon Dam
& other poems
& other poems

Christine Stroud
& other poems

Abraham Moore
Inadvertent Landscape
& other poems

Chris Haug
Cow with Parasol
& other poems

Mariah Blankenship
Fiberglass Madonna
& other poems

Emily Hyland
The Hit
& other poems

Sam Pittman
Growth Memory
& other poems

Alex Linden
The Blues of In-Between
& other poems

Bobby Lynn Taylor
& other poems

D. Ellis Phelps
Five Poems

Alia Neaton
Cosmogony I
& other poems

Elisa Albo
Each Day More
& other poems

Noah B. Salamon
& other poems

Alex Linden

Family Tree Says:

Our ancestors cannot be touched. They sleep

          with lights blaring. Their bodies

become centripetal, moving always toward

          their houses of death. The snap

of their flat shoes against wood mimics

          each floating moment:

a horse gives birth to twins and vibrates

          feverishly. Her body’s cadence sends

my grandfather into a panic: his truck careens

          into a ditch. He quits downing brown

liquor in the afternoon.

         What I’m trying to say is that

clocks sync predictably.

My mother grew in the country, in

          the country’s country, embedded in a field

of corn or a mine. In the aching farm

         house the dogs could not quit mouthing

their versions of truth.

Look: either this is true or it isn’t.


One day a man entered my mother’s house, axe

          in hand, copper-handed, hands like glass

or a spider unwinding. The German Shepherd sank

          into him from behind.

In that moment she wasn’t a dog.

Family Tree says: apparitions become real

         once they are spoken of.

          This man became my father

or a ghost or both. He became

          a transient I knew in Tempe, Arizona. The hot

crackle of that state melted his shoes. He became

          a transient I knew in Dallas or Oklahoma and

he spoke with a lilt. He became so transient

          that in his disappearance clocks whined

and refused to be wound. Lights moved as animals; blue

         ness became obsolete. The ground under

my feet soared upward like a chime and I

          only knew concrete things: pendulums click trochaic, loop

always back to simple paths.

The Blues of In-Between

A woman flicks

a pinch of hair between her lips

every 28 seconds.

I am counting the interval

and I can’t stop.

On the bus I am trying to decode family signs

but there is no clicking, no machinery.

Finally, in a deafening moment

something prompts a recollection:

father throws tennis shoes onto the ruddy porch

(thank God sister isn’t too heavy to carry).

I can punch the wall if a person deserves punching.

(Keep the doors locked and we might be fine).

Our tires are slashed in the theatre parking lot.

(Mother says mother but won’t finish the word).

On the bus I anticipate

this hair-eating woman like a downbeat.

I know her like myself

if I were to misplace my teeth.

She grinds those exposed bones like a ritual.

Her daughter is eight, obese, she’s

combed her own hair into two neat pigtails.

She offers her doll to everyone.

This bus is going to:

a. Disneyland

b. The neighborhoods we grew up in (we’re too good for them now).

c. the white and violent blocks we assume

             will stress fracture our feet.

In another world, mother brushes her teeth

an hour per day.

She says People are judged by the shape of their mouths,

as a woman you must accept this in order to move up, and out.

Body Murmur

What luck to live

next to a harpist,

to learn through symbiosis

the callus behind the nail

and the trail of the fingers,

brush of nylon or wire.

I was so busy counting the specks

of dust in the atmosphere

which attach to a droplet

and freeze in their descent

that I forgot to call it snow

and lost the concept of any name,

of any drifting through my window.

Yet even after winter’s release

I begged for a moment whose atoms

could not materialize,

and when I knew you, those bending

strings across my ribcage, had gone

I got going on myself,

yet held this hereditary

pathogen, some incalculable integer,

and it pulsed forth a blood-born

murmur, rushed from your chest

toward a stethoscope, through my window,

through my chest.

Trading Sacrifices


As a child I watch her stop traffic.

May brings indelicate heat.

The ground cracks into a puzzle.

We walk hand in hand

through the parking lot

of a grocery store named Smitty’s.

The butcher is in love with my mother,

he is getting a divorce.

I think about this as he meticulously cuts meat.

I see words as shapes, hear names and picture foods.

His name, David, is pepperoni.

I am some type of pasta

and Diana is cantaloupe.

We are playing this game in the parking lot

and David turns to wave goodbye.

Distracted, I do not see the car barrel toward me.

My wrist becomes a rope.

I turn in time to see her shoulder jam

into the side of a stranger’s car.


At twenty-four I watch her fall.

I am driving across the Great Plains.

Last night after I heard she swallowed a bottle of pills

I lapped whiskey from the bottle.

The only time I cry is when I think of the Mormons

who touched oil to my head, a gift from a friend.

I do think of this, and the car nearly flies

from the road.

I clutch the can in my hand and it is her shoulder.

It cuts my palm.

From this moment forward I can’t remember

much of the drive, except the barrels of hay

rising up from each hill like roughened knuckles,

drumming the beats of our collision.

Retroverted Uterus

When the baby came all

pale and thin flecks

of cotton floated through

the air and I told the girl

all of my names. I asked

my husband to fill his

hands with the drifting

cotton but he said

its texture, like that of

chalk, would render him

weak and queasy.

I recalled, then, the time

I almost fell in love

with someone else:

the next day

I puked until my stomach

bruised, until I could

feel my abdomen growing

taut and southward, pushing

my uterus into its compliant

position—crowding it

up against my spine. When

I explained my situation

to the male gynecologist

he told me I should quit

sit-ups and nausea and focus

more on cardio, and my child.

Even still, sometimes when I hold

my daughter I feel my uterus

nudging along my vertebrae

and for the life of me

I cannot decide if it’s a threat

or a dance.

Creating Distances and Asteroids

She leapt too soon.

In Amsterdam I pretended her death.

I slept not alone but scattered across the hotel.

I left notes: bobby pins, straws,

a man and a pink bra.

I pretended as the plane touched down.

I worried about papers to grade.

She wouldn’t set foot on a plane,

didn’t trust the churning

in the air and under her feet.

Did I admire suicide until my mother

tried it on?

In the weeks after her scattered pills

I imagined her carrying oyster shells,

shucking them bare-handed, loving

a pearl, loving a cut finger—but no,

that was me in New Orleans eating

the aphrodisiac, drinking the aphrodisiac

with a solid man who didn’t

know my mother.

She leapt too soon.

Is she touching down now?

In Tucson I remembered her birthplace.

I buried the thought of her and wandered

the tired desert.

Fallen spines cracked under my feet, permeated

the dual soles.

I pretended in every corner of the world,

lapped up her sickness

and let it become molasses.


Sometimes I awake at 3 a.m

and see that an asteroid

has grown between my teeth.

I spit—just softly—and watch it sink

deep into the ground between us.

Alex Linden hails from Tempe, Arizona. She holds an MFA from Oklahoma State University and is currently a PhD student at Texas Tech University. Other poems have appeared in Blue Earth Review, Blood Lotus, Juked, and Burner magazine. She has poems forthcoming in Bayou Magazine.

Dotted Line